A colleague and I recently experienced how women leaders collaborate to resolve divisions on contentious high stakes issues. The same issues that certain men use to divide us.

How Women Leaders Collaborate

First, some background information: Joanne Cleaver and I are collaborators in a small network of professional women who help companies, and entire industries, promote more women leaders. In September, 2016 we had lunch after a client meeting in New York City. Given the timing, and intensity of the presidential election, it was part of our conversation

Joanne said she couldn’t vote for a certain candidate because “She’ll come after the babies.”  I had no clue what that meant, and asked “Can you repeat what you said? I don’t think I heard you correctly.” Joanne repeated the same statement. I inquired. “What does that mean?”  Joanne explained she was pro-life and “come after the babies” implied pro-choice and the possibility of abortion. (I don’t think anyone is for abortion.) She preferred state control over this issue. I am pro-choice and believe just as strongly that government officials have no place in determining the choices women make about child birth. Period. We argued a bit over wasted votes for 3rd party candidates, but when Joanne said “I have to vote my conscience”, I stopped. Because I understand what that means and know how I feel about matters of conscience. On this point, we are alike.

Pocket Marchers Crossing Divides

Fast forward to the Women’s March on Washington DC, major cities in the U.S. and around the world. My husband and I are going to DC. But several women I know cant’ make it. I offer to bring them as #pocketmarchers. I write each of their names on a card. I keep it, and them, in my pocket. Then throughout the day, I post pictures, messages and stories about the march on my facebook page. The card gets messier as I add more names in response to friends’ requests.

Women leaders collaborate

Women leaders collaborate - my #pocketmarchers

It was a better experience because these 11 women, from different states and countries, were in my pocket. They, in turn, were really engaged.

Then, several days after The March, Joanne, my friend and colleague, sent me a link to an article she published in the Chicago Tribune. It begins to sew the threads of collaboration aimed at resolving the seemingly intractable divide between pro-choice and pro-life. Women on both sides know accessible health care reduces abortions. (You can read an excerpt, with a link to the full article, below)

Women leaders collaborate to find solutions and then we implement them. Imagine partnerships between Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood federation, and women leaders from the pro-life movement. Cecile should expect a call from me soon. I’m hoping Joanne will join us.

5 Things a Pro-lifer Learned about Pro-choice from Friends at the Women’s March

I was a stowaway at the Women’s March on Washington. I couldn’t go, so a friend carried my name on a card in her pocket, along with those of a dozen other women who were there in spirit.

My friend’s act of kindness also was an act of faith. She is a pro-choice Democrat. I am pro-life Republican. And we suddenly found ourselves agreeing on a huge issue that threatens to undo progress towards achieving both our goals for women and unborn babies. So, she put me in her pocket. (Continue reading here)


Anne Perschel
Anne Perschel
When she is not consulting; coaching; reading and writing about leadership; or enjoying her work in other ways; Anne can be found:

Listening to ocean waves receding over stones.
Enjoying the spontaneous expressions of young children who haven’t yet learned to hide their emotions.
Taking in the scent of freesias, lilacs or salt water.
Enjoying the great, or not so great, outdoors and all variations of nature’s gifts.
At the gym.

As Seen In:

Women Leaders Collaborate and Solve Seemingly Intractable Problems